Rio de Janeiro's mayor & former missionary, Marcelo Crivella, stands behind his convictions for 'Carnival Party'
RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio de Janeiro's mayor, Marcelo Crivella, a retired Pentecostal bishop and former missionary is standing by his commitment and his faith by not participating in this week's sin filled annual Carnival party.
The former gospel singer and missionary, a high-profile member of one of Brazil's most powerful evangelical churches, captured 59 percent of the vote and took office Jan. Less than two months into his four-year term, Crivella's promises are about to be tested by Carnival, Rio's annual weeklong party often marked by sin.
The mayor's office signaled this week that Crivella may not participate in the festivities starting last Friday.
The possibility he won't be present for the city's biggest draw, this year expected to bring just under $1 billion in revenue, has sparked head-scratching by some, but support from others.
Given Rio's current economic crisis, "not showing up for Carnival doesn't seem like a smart thing to do," said Bernardo Mello Franco, columnist for the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.
Crivella's office declined to make him available for an interview or say what he would do during the Carnival period if he doesn't attend. Local reports have said he may travel to Israel.
In a statement to The Associated Press, a Crivella spokesman said the mayor was responsible "for matters related to administration and infrastructure of Rio de Janeiro" and questions about his faith "were not relevant to the city or the (Carnival) party."
O Globo, the city's largest daily, went so far as to analyze what other mayors have done during Carnival. Its conclusion: If Crivella doesn't go, he would be the first mayor in modern times to not attend the opening ceremony — at least his first year in office.
But Josue Valandro Jr., a pastor at a Baptist church in Rio that participates in the traditional folklore aspects of Carnival, said Crivella's ultimate decision should be respected.
"Society is always saying that evangelicals are judgmental," said Valandro. "Crivella isn't obligated to turn over the key (to the city). We need to learn to respect others."
Participating in Carnival is not unheard of for evangelicals, some of whom organize street parties and use the event to recruit church members.
Evangelicals have enjoyed a growing role in politics in a country that is both a center of extraordinary growth for their churches and also home to more Catholics than any other country in the world.
Twenty-two percent of Brazilians currently identify as evangelical Christians, up from 5 percent in 1970. A shortage of Catholic priests combined with evangelicals' willingness to work in slums plagued by drug-trafficking and violence have helped them mobilize voters.
Congress' "evangelical bloc" representing about a fifth of seats in both chambers has emerged as a political force that was influential in President Dilma Rousseff's removal last year and pushes for conservative laws.
Still, many Brazilians still reject evangelical faiths, seeing them as contrary to the live-and-let-live attitude that remains a strong part of national culture.
Photo: Marcelo Crivella, bishop of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, who was running for governor of Rio de Janeiro state, campaigns at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While campaigning last year to be Rio de Janeiro's mayor, Crivella, a Pentecostal pastor from one of Brazil's most powerful evangelical churches, repeatedly argued that his faith would not get in the way of governing the nation's most famous city. Crivella is now retired from his post as bishop and is currently a full time politician. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Quotes and news provided by AP, rewritten by Logos Post